New iPhone 16 Camera Treatment May Put an End to Lens Flare

iPhone 14 Pro Max main camera lens Credit: TheRegisti / Unsplash
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At least some of this year’s iPhone 16 models may receive a relatively simple camera enhancement that could significantly improve your photos.

According to the latest iPhone 16 Pro supply chain rumor, Apple has been testing new anti-reflective optical coating technologies for its iPhone cameras to help eliminate lens flares and artifacts like ghosting.

This latest report comes from leaks aggregator yeux1122 and describes a technology called Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD). This would be an extremely thin coating applied to the lenses during the manufacturing process that would help to eliminate spurious reflections that are the typical cause of halo effects and other lighting artifacts that occur when there’s a bright light source (like the sun) shining directly into the lens at certain angles.

Although Apple’s Director of Optical Engineering briefly mentioned a “nanoscale coating” during last fall’s iPhone 15 Pro launch, the company has been oddly quiet about it, with no mention of it anywhere on its iPhone 15 Pro product page or specs.

iPhone 15 Pro features a more advanced 48-megapixel main camera with an even larger sensor than iPhone 15. The camera includes a new nanoscale coating to reduce lens flare, brings high resolution to everyday photos, enables more focal lengths, and has better low-light performance for portraits and night mode. Misha Scepanovic, Apple Director of Optical Engineering

That’s probably not surprising since, by most reports, this new nanoscale coating doesn’t seem to make much of a difference in practice. Hence, it appears that Apple may have gone back to the drawing board with a more sophisticated ALD technique.

While the post doesn’t mention the iPhone 16 by name, it does say that the technique is expected to be applied to the next iPhone Pro model. However, since the iPhone 16 Pro is already nearing the final stages of production validation, there’s a possibility it could be referring to next year’s iPhone 17 Pro instead.

Either way, it seems this will only be available on Apple’s premium models, at least at the outset, similar to the nanoscale coating on the iPhone 15 Pro. It’s also unclear whether Apple will add the ALD coating to all three lenses.

As usual, most of this year’s big camera improvements will be exclusive to the iPhone 16 Pro. That includes bringing the iPhone 15 Pro Max-exclusive 5X tetraprism lens to the smaller iPhone 16 Pro and boosting the ultra wide camera to 48 megapixels. There’s also a slightly more dubious rumor of a super telephoto camera for the iPhone 16 Pro Max, but we’d take that one with a larger dose of salt as it only came from one source last summer, and we’ve heard nothing more about it since.

Don’t expect as much from the standard iPhone 16 and iPhone 16 Plus models this year. Although Apple surprised us with a new 48MP sensor in the iPhone 15, that was also the most significant camera upgrade to come to the standard iPhone since the iPhone 11 gained the second lens. The iPhone 16 is unlikely to see any such bumps in optical technology this year, although the camera layout may be rearranged to allow for Spatial Video recording. Several reports also suggest it will gain the new Capture button as that’s expected to come to the entire iPhone 16 lineup.

[The information provided in this article has NOT been confirmed by Apple and may be speculation. Provided details may not be factual. Take all rumors, tech or otherwise, with a grain of salt.]

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